After last week’s Regent’s Street painting, I was keen to crack on with this next view of Picadilly Circus in central London. The reference photo was taken on the same day as last week’s reference photo – early in the morning on a crisp clear day, with a low sun, long shadows and not many people about. Remarkably, I also remembered to do some work in progress photos. Here’s how I got on.
I was quite pleased with this drawing. I thought it struck a reasonable balance between suggesting some architectural detail without going in to too much detail.
In last week’s painting, I left the sky until the end. I would have liked to have done the same with this one too but I was a little concerned about the risk of some of the rooftop elements and the statue bleeding. looking at this view now, I quite like the drama of this…
Once the sky was dry I washed in a pale bluey grey over the buildings, darkening it as I moved into the foreground. My intention at this stage was to keep it quite monochrome.
I then added in some of the darker shadows that define the main architectural elements. I think I went in a little too strong with these. I also began to think that the buildings looked a little too cold so thought I’d best try to warm them up a little.
This felt a little better, though I was already beginning to wonder what this would look like if I’d gone in with a warm wash across the buildings first, and then try to cool that one down with some greys later on.
Once these washes were dry, I started on some dry brush work on the Statue of Eros. I really enjoyed this part, the suggestion of the form with just some simple brush strokes, then adding on some water and watching the colours run a little, bleeding a little here, separating a little there, lovely stuff!
This continued down into the steps and then to adding in the foreground figures. I think that it was around this point that I felt that the foreground needed a little beefing up, and added in a darker purplish shadow. Sadly I think this was only served to muddy the foreground up a little.
Here’s how I left it:
The more I looked at this, the more I wanted to do it again. Partly because I enjoyed painting the view, and partly because I was sure I could do it better.
This time, I got so caught up in what I was doing that I totally forgot to document the stages. One difference was that I spent a little longer on drawing this one out, and feel it’s a little sounder for it in terms of perspective and scale. I also tried to complete this in fewer washes, and to be a little lighter of touch. Most of this worked out. Sadly, despite my best efforts, I don’t think the painting of the silhouetted statue was as fresh and interesting as the first painting.
Weighing the two up side by side, I really like elements of both of them, but still feel frustrated that I haven’t cracked this one yet. I just need to spend a little time now working out how I can do this again, and exactly what I need to do to make it work better!
I posted both of these up onto instagram and received some really helpful constructive advice, all of which I’m hoping will prove beneficial when I next try to tackle this scene – hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky!